Marie Chabbert

Faithful Deicides: Contemporary French Thought and Religion After the Death of God

In line with the Heideggerian critique of ontotheological misconceptions of the unconditioned as the totality which appeals to the concepts of identity, self-sufficiency, and purity – the highest form of which is given the name of God – Georges Bataille, Gilles Deleuze, and Jean-Luc Nancy use the word of Nietzsche “God is dead” and the internal inconsistency they identify in theories which contributed to perpetuate and reinforce the onto-theological tradition – in particular those of Kant and Hegel – as powerful levers to displace the unconditioned from identity to difference, from totality to heterogenesis. In so doing, Bataille, Deleuze, and Nancy take part to a general critique of metaphysics and ontology characteristic of the French intellectual landscape since the end of WWII and often associated with figures such as Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, and Alain Badiou. Such a critique and its consequences on an understanding of reason, values, and the subject, have been much studied already. Crucially, scholars pointed out that the work of Bataille, Deleuze, and Nancy differ from those of other French thinkers of this period by their readiness to ontologise.

To the best of my knowledge, however, none of these studies explicitly stressed the theoretical proximity between Deleuze and Nancy, as well as between Deleuze and Bataille, on that matter. Rather surprisingly, Deleuze’s work has largely been considered separately, thereby overlooking its resonance with the Bataille-Nancy line of thought. One of the main aims of my thesis is to fill this gap in existing literature by bringing Deleuze’s work closer to that of Bataille and Nancy, thanks to their mutual connection to figures such as Nietzsche, Hegel, Kant, and Spinoza. Moreover, considering Bataille, Deleuze and Nancy together on the question of the death of God will allow me to shed light on another consequence of the French critique of metaphysics and ontology which so far remains underexplored. Bataille, Deleuze, and Nancy’s specific approach to the question of Being, I argue, challenges and radically alters the way in which religion has traditionally been understood as it sheds light on the “faith-ful” heart of religion, so far obscured by its theological clothing, and thereby offers a promising lead for a rethinking of religion after the death of God.

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